From Controversy to Compliments: How The Humble LBD Has Evolved

What’s your go-to outfit for those days when you just can’t decide what to wear—a classic LBD, of course. Whether you wear it to a brunch or on the red carpet, it is one item that can be styled any way you like. But did you know that in the early 1920s, it was considered taboo? From then to now, here’s a look at how this wardrobe staple has evolved.

Pre-1920s – Distasteful Black
Black is the colour of mourning in the West and was worn by widows in the past—so it was considered distasteful to wear it on an occasion other a funeral. Artist John Singer Sargent’s painting, Madame X, created a huge hue and cry in the ’20s for the outfit being black and ‘too sexy’. However, this was the introduction of the black dress into the society as a fashionable option.

evolution of the lbd
1920s – Coco Chanel
This was the time legendary designer Coco Chanel made the LBD popular to every woman, especially after Vogue published a chic LBD created by her in one of its photoshoots. Soon it became like a uniform for most women. It also gave women freedom from the tight, corseted dresses. It sent a message that women were ready to wear something comfortable and simple to go out and work odd jobs.

evolution of the lbd - Coco Chanel
1930s – The Flapper Dress
The classic black dress evolved to the flapper dress, which is our version of the layered, ruffled dress in the 1930s. This was also the time when the LBD started being associated with jazz music, which was not widely accepted at the time. The flapper dress soon became a rebel favourite.

evolution of the lbd
1940s – The Great Depression
Towards the latter years of the Great Depression, the ‘mend-and-make-do’ was trending purely because there was a serious cut on all kinds of luxury. Additionally, women began to be considered at par with men by joining them in work and even joining the armed forces, which led to a need for something convenient yet classy. At this time, exaggerated shoulders and straight cuts became the norm.

evolution of the lbd1950s – Hollywood
It was simply a functional piece to wear to work, but the LBD soon became a sexy, gorgeous piece of fashion for women in the 50s. This was because of the Hollywood boom, where on-screen glitterati wore black dresses.

evolution of the lbd
1960s – Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s
When the gorgeous Audrey Hepburn sported a floor-length black dress in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, women everywhere began to imitate her style. The younger generation took it one step further by opting for shorter lengths. This was the time when the term ‘mini skirt’ was coined.

evolution of the lbd 0 audrey hepburn1970s – Punk Rock
The black dress that was oh-so-pretty till the ’60s got a punk rock twist in the ’70s, with the addition of bold embellishments and different fabrics, along with quirky rips and cuts. This decade saw plunging necklines and rising hemlines.

evolution of the lbd1980s – Opulence
The ’80s were all about dressing up the black dress. From sequins to exaggerated shoulders to bows and other embellishments, the LBD was a symbol of glamour and high fashion.

evolution of the lbd1990s – Simple and Elegant
In the ’90s, the opulence fizzled out and was replaced by minimal, short versions of the LBD. It was all about fitted spaghetti-strap minidresses, with the Spice Girls being the trendsetters.

evolution of the lbd2000s – Eternal Fashion
The LBD had come a long way by the beginning of this century and the 2000s revisited the entire history of this classic trend by going for different silhouettes, layers, embellishments and peplum.

evolution of the lbd2010 onwards – Futuristic
From bodycons to WBDs (Why Bother Dresses) and panelling, we love how the LBD has taken a futuristic turn. While retro remains a favourite with everyone, we can’t let of this trend just yet.

evolution of the lbd
What do you think is the future of the LBD? Do write in to us in the comments section.

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